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‘Cap Nord’ in Malmö : the solidarity, resistance and urban social movements

The European Social Forum ‘Cap Nord’ in Malmö (17-21 September 2008) is the unexpected product of an initiatve to bring the anti-globalisation debate to the historical (and now crisis-ridden) homeland of social democracy and the welfare state, to establish direct links between the social movements of the European Union and those of the former Soviet bloc.

There are a large number of initiatives being taken in relation to housing and cities, underlining the willingness of networks, residents’ associations and NGOs involved in these fields to take on board the negative effects of neoliberal urban policies more efficiently and with greater solidarity.

The figure of more than 3 million homeless and some 70 millions living in precarious housing show how important it is to use any and all means to combat Europe’ s drift towards neoliberalism, asserting the right of its inhabitants and of the poor (including migrants and nomadic peoples) to be considered as ‘city-builders’ and not as disposable consumers and customers.

This event brings together the fight against forced evictions carried out untiringly by the International Alliance of Inhabitants and its allies in the Zero Evictions Campaign, involved in resistance to demolitions in Istanbul, to the eviction of tenants in Italy and France, the homes lost as a result of the real estate crisis in Russia and elsewhere, privatisation in Germany and the UK, speculation in Spain and elsewhere, and the persecution of nomadic peoples, including the Roma.

The event will kick off on the morning of Thursday 18 September (9.30-12.30, Rosengård Värner Rydénskolan) with ‘Reclaiming the city: Resisting evictions, demolition, gentrification, privatisation, speculation’, organised by Habitat Netz, the IAI, SKS (the Russian Union of Regional Soviet Coordinating Councils) and the International Network for Urban Research and Action.

Friday 19 September has a lot to offer. In the morning (9.30-12.30, Café Möllan), the International Union of Tenants will present ‘Save public housing in Sweden. Against market rents and social housing’, a truly glocal initiatve, given the European Commission’s determined attack on Sweden’s social housing system.

In the evening (18.00-21.00), there are two options. One (KFUK-KFUM) is the meeting organised by CIDEFE (Centre d'Information, de Documentation, d'Etude et de Formation des Elus) and the IAI, ‘Logement: un droit pour tous partout en Europe (Making the right to housing a right for all throughout Europe)’ , the outcome of the first European States General for the right to housing held in the European Parliament in 2007.

Elsewhere (Chokladfabriken, Ölhallen), there will be ‘Quel avenir choisirons-nous: une métropole néolibérale ou un lieu de vie commun où règne la solidarité ? (What future do we want : a neoliberal metropolis or a space for life in common and solidarity ?)’, the first part of an exchange between local authorities (FALP), trade unions (CGIL), NGOs (AITEC, Zone Onlus), residents’ associations (IAI) and professionals (the Turkish Union of Architects and Engineers), amongst others.

On Saturday 20 September, there will again be options to choose between : the second part of the ‘Quel avenir…’ workshop (9.30-12.30, Hyllie park Folkhögskola) and at the same time (Enskifteshagen, Tält 2) an assembly of urban social movements sponsored by IAI, Habitat Netz Germany-Reclaiming Spaces and No-Vox. The agenda will include setting a timetable for Europe-wide mobilisations to make sure the voices of the people are heard by the European Union. Creating a space to share that offers independence but also an ability to build alliances or partnerships with other urban actors on the basis of sharing experiences and principles. A space which should grow in strength on the global level in the context of the dynamic created by the Madrid Declaration and the preparation for the World Assembly of Inhabitants planned for 2011.

Finally, on Sunday 21 September (9.30-12.30, Värner Rydénskolan), the No-Vox Assembly will be held, and the Assembly of Social Movements.

Next European stages : the World Zero-Evictions Days, to be held during October in a number of countries, and the preparation for mobilisation at the end of November in France, at the time of the meeting of the ministers of the European Union.